Marais in race against time to fix Bulls fail­ings

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

THE Blue Bulls will have no time to pon­der what went wrong in their loss against the Sharks be­fore fac­ing an­other de­mand­ing en­counter against Western Prov­ince at New­lands to­mor­row.

For­tu­nately for the men in blue, their flaws and woes were rather ob­vi­ous and the ma­jor­ity of them stemmed from their in­abil­ity to stick to their plan while still giv­ing away points cheaply to the op­po­si­tion ac­cord­ing to coach Nol­lis Marais,

With time against them from Wed­nes­day night’s de­feat at Lof­tus Vers­feld, Marais is hope­ful that the two days prepa­ra­tion will be enough to get their Cur­rie Cup cam­paign back on track but re­mains wary of a Western Prov­ince side that is strug­gling af­ter their loss to Gri­quas in Kim­ber­ley on Wed­nes­day as well. “We were on the back foot from the be­gin­ning and when we were on the at­tack we lost the ball try­ing to force a fifty fifty off­loads.

“The Sharks are a very good side and when you give them an op­por­tu­nity they are a very dan­ger­ous side.

“But we were just not good enough on the night,” Marais said.

“We just have to get back. Western Prov­ince suf­fered a de­feat as well so Satur­day they are go­ing to be up for it.

“We’ve lost a home game now which is not ac­cept­able, not that any loss is ac­cept­able, so we need to make it right on Satur­day.”

At the heart of the Bulls prob­lems so early in the sea­son has been their frail­ties on de­fence while they have also failed to get any sort of dom­i­nance in the scrums and line-outs.

What they have ex­celled in so far has been the speed with which they play with ball in hand and that too seemed to elude them against the Sharks.

For Marais these are mi­nor is­sues that should be turned around in a game as long as his side learns to stick to their plan and pro­cesses. More im­por­tantly though, they will need to re­de­fine their at­ti­tude on de­fence which has seen them give away easy tries against Gri­quas, the Golden Li­ons and the Sharks.

“We had op­por­tu­ni­ties but we just didn’t use them. Our re­ac­tion speed was not good un­like in pre­vi­ous games. Our set-piece wasn’t good and yet again we gave away tries eas­ily. They scored easy tries and we had to fight for each and ev­ery one so that is some­thing we need to fix.

“De­fence, ex­its, we lost ball at kick-off, lost it for­ward and they scored seven points. We slipped tack­les and gave them mo­men­tum and we had to catch up all game. We didn’t stick to the process and plan we need to get the guys back on track,” said Marais.

The Bulls are un­likely to make sig­nif­i­cant changes to their team even though the phys­i­cal toll of play­ing two games in five days will be­gin to take ef­fect.

Sen­sa­tional wing Dun­can Matthews is fit and avail­able for se­lec­tion while Ju­nior Spring­bok full­back Manie Lib­bok suf­fered an an­kle in­jury late in the game against the Sharks.

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